Bicycling for Dummies and Complete Idiots:
Bicycle Repair Guide:
Fundamentals of Bicycles:
6. Wheels and Tires
7. Seat or Saddle and Seat Post
8. Power Train
9. Front Half of Power Train
11. Back Half of Power Train and Gear Changers
Our second catalog: Even More Stuff! This 2,000-item online catalog showcases parts and accessories cyclists often look for.
Finally, our third
catalog, with over 3,00 items, has all the parts or accessories
we missed in the above catalogs (a difficult job) -- or the similar
stuff but from different manufacturers.
Our web site contains three distinct product catalogs, with over 8,000 cycling items. Nearly every major brand, every size, every parametric specification of bicycle parts and accessories may be located in these catalogs:
Mechanical Safety and Operational Inspection for Bicycles
Fundamental Pre-Ride Inspection Questions
Before you begin riding your bicycle, inspect it carefully. The mechanical part of the inspection consists of asking the following questions (and addressing them!):
Components Tightly Fastened
All parts must be tightly fastened on, and all adjusting clamps must be tight. Pull, push, and twist each of these parts to see whether it is loose. If it is, tighten it or the clamps that hold it. Check the saddle, handlebars, handlebar stem, brake levers, brakes, cranks, pedals, derailleurs, carrier rack, mudguards, lamp, reflectors, and other accessories.
Wheels Tightly Secured
Because a loose wheel is especially dangerous, wheels require a closer examination. See that the nuts or quick-releases are tightly clamped. For nutted wheels, put a wrench on each nut and tighten it properly. For quick releases, open and close each quick release. It must take force to close but must close completely, so that the lever is next to the frame. If it doesn't take force to close the lever to the position next to the frame, release the lever and adjust the nut on the other end until the lever closes properly.
Tires should be inflated to the pressure marked on them. Check with a gauge until you learn the correct finger-squeeze feel.
Tires should have all cuts repaired and no bulges, and no cords should be showing through worn tread.
Every rotating part should turn freely but not be loose enough to shake more than the smallest amount you can feel. Test wheels, cranks, and pedals by turning and trying to shake them. Parts that are too stiff or too loose require adjustment or repair.
The steering bearings must be most carefully adjusted. See that the handlebars turn freely. If there is any binding, the bearings are too tight. Then lock the front wheel either with the front brake or by steering the front wheel against a wall. Rock the bike forward and backward. If the front fork moves relative to the frame, the bearings are too loose. If you cannot achieve an adjustment that is firm in the straight-ahead position without binding elsewhere, the steering bearings (headset) require replacement.
The wheels and chainwheels should not wobble when they are turned. Spin each wheel and then the cranks. If a wheel or chainwheel wobbles as it spins, it needs straightening.
Squeeze hard on each brake lever in turn. There should be room for a finger between the lever and the handlebar. If not, the brake cable needs tightening, either at the screw adjuster or at the cable anchor bolt.
Examine the brakeblocks. The entire face of the block should touch the rim and not the tire, and the front end of each brakeblock holder should be the closed end. Reposition the brakeblocks if necessary. If there is less than 1/8" of rubber outside the holder, get new brakeblocks.
Examine the brake cables. If the outer housing is kinked or its coils are pulled apart, the housing must be replaced. If the inner wire has broken strands, which generally start inside the lever or at the brake end of the housing, the wire must be replaced.
Make sure that all gears work. For derailleur bikes, lift the rear wheel off the ground, turn the cranks, and shift through all gears. Both front and rear derailleurs must move far enough to move the chain onto each sprocket or chainwheel, but not so far that the chain falls off. Adjust to correct either problem.
On hub-geared bikes, shift into each gear in turn. When in each gear, lock the rear wheel by standing the bicycle on the ground. Then test the gear adjustment by forcefully slamming the crank forward. If the hub slips out of gear or jumps, at the very least the gearshift cable needs adjustment.
If you plan to ride at night, you must have a headlamp and rear reflector. Both must be firmly fastened on. Make sure that the lamp or generator works. Examine the rear reflector carefully. It should be at least 3 inches across. It should not appear to be divided into three panels. It should be positioned so that it can be seen from behind, even when you are carrying a load.
Roadside Repair Tools
You should be equipped with tools for roadside repairs. These include a multisocket wrench, a 6" adjustable wrench, a tire patch kit, tire "irons", a pump, a narrow-blade screwdriver, and hexagonal (Allen) keys of the sizes required for your bicycle (most commonly 5 mm and 6 mm). Perhaps the best tools solution is to purchase an all-in-one "multitool". These are available from manufacturers like Topeak and Park Tool.
Our Troubleshooting Guides
Wear and component failure is normal for any mechanical device. If you perform your pre-ride checks as described on your bicycle, correct problems as soon as you notice them and keep your bike clean and well lubricated, you'll slow down the wear process and prolong the life of your bike's components.
Even when a bicycle is properly maintained, problems can still occur. This is especially true with mountain bikes, as they take quite a bit more punishment than bikes that are used primarily on the road.
Some problems are easy to diagnose and fix, while others aren't so obvious. There is nothing "mysterious" about troubleshooting a bicycle, and you don't have to be a professional mechanic. Successful troubleshooting is simply the result of a bit of knowledge combined with an intelligent, systematic approach to the problem. Always work by process of elimination when tackling a problem that isn't readily diagnosed, starting with the simplest solution and working through to the most complex.
The troubleshooting tables on this web site provides an easy reference guide to the more common problems that may crop up during normal operation of your bicycle. In the table, problems will be listed under the system or component group that they pertain to. The first group encompasses general riding problems that aren't easily categorized. The bold headings contain the various problems that may be encountered. The left column lists the probable cause(s) of the problem, and the right column reveals the corrective action necessary to restore proper operation.
If, after using this troubleshooting guide you are still unable to resolve the problem, don't be afraid to seek the advice of your local bike shop. They're in business because they are bicycle fans, and will be more than happy to help you.
Other links to useful products and information:
Modified: Sunday, May 3, 2020 3:15 PM PST